Kitchen Stories – Kim Pham at Viet De Lites
Kim Pham has a lot to thank her mum for. “I was lucky enough to inherit my mother’s skill in the kitchen but food and cooking have always been very important to my family,” says the quietly spoken but bubbly Kim, owner of Viet De Lites, Little Stanley Street’s locale for authentic Northern Vietnamese cuisine.
Born in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Kim says her mother’s tutelage was invaluable. “I remember going to market with my Mum in the early morning at age ten; she taught me how to choose good fresh meat and how to see the difference between cow meat and buffalo. She passed on her keen eye for picking fresh vegetables and fish as well.” Moving to a new country can be isolating, especially with a language barrier but Kim says that after coming to Brisbane in 1982, cooking became her social catalyst. “Without my whole family near, I needed to cultivate our friends and the best way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach,” she laughs.
After starting off in the kitchens of the restaurant, Kim bought Viet De Lites from her sister-in-law. A number of sleepless nights ensued as she tried to settle on a unique concept. “I went to Green Papaya and spoke with Mrs Lien Yeomans, which gave me the idea to use all three culinary regions of Vietnam as inspiration. It is not difficult to be able to reproduce authentic Vietnamese in Queensland because of the great variety of fresh, bountiful ingredients available!”
The best way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach.
| 4 single chicken breast fillets
1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
1 bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked
2 small carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks
2 cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
1 salad onion, thinly sliced
110g trimmed bean sprouts
2 fresh, red birds-eye chillies (deseeded, finely chopped)
80ml fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
55g roasted sesame seeds
|Place chicken in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes (turning once) or until cooked through. Drain and set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Coarsely shred.
Combine the mint, coriander, carrot, cucumber, shallot and bean sprouts in a bowl. Whisk chilli, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a small jug.Add chicken to salad and toss to combine. Drizzle over dressing.
Divide among serving bowls, sprinkle with sesames and serve with crispy sesame rice papers.